Dragon Dictate and Yosemite

So I have upgraded to Yosemite and DragonDictate seems to be working so far. I was a little bit dubious about whether I should do the upgrade or not and this was based totally upon whether DragonDictate would work within the new OS X operating system. It is this speech to text application that I use on a daily basis that has to work for me, otherwise I would just never get any work done at all. I’m using it now within the DragonDictate window and next will be trying it out on other applications also. I usually find that it works well when I am dictating into my journalling application called Day One. When I’m dictating into Chrome I sometimes find that the application has a little bit of a problem. What it does, is to add a random letter to the end of the text and it will stay there until I delete it. The actual dictation works more or less the same as it does when I’m using it within the DragonDictate window. It is only a small annoyance to have that letter added to the end of my text during the dictation process.
DragonDictate

What do I think of Yosemite so far?

The first impressions is that it is quite clean looking. I can’t say much more than that as I haven’t yet tried out any of the new options available within the new operating system. I know that I won’t be able to try the Handoff feature until I get my hands on a Bluetooth dongle. Rocketek USB Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy USB Adapter – Mac OS, Classic Bluetooth and Stereo Headset Compatible usb 4.0 dongle is the one I will give a try.
The Bluetooth has to be the Bluetooth 4 low-energy and it is just not on the older models of the Mac. My iMac is three years old and so I will have to try the dongle in order to use Hand Off.

Should I use iCloud drive?

Cloud Drive Explorer on the App Store on iTunesI was a little bit hesitant during the installation process as to whether I should start using iCloud Drive. This was because it was advised that we shouldn’t use it when upgrading to iOS 8. I think it should be okay now and so I will go for it and see what happens. I got my hands on the free app Cloud Drive Explorer so that I could see inside iCloud Drive on my iOS devices. I thought I could drop a file into the iCloud folder and it would show up on the iOS devices in some place I could use it. I was trying all sorts of ways to move a file from the Mac in Byword to iOS via iCloud Drive. In the end I dragged it to the TextEdit folder and used the third party app to open it and sent to Byword. I wasn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be.I suppose it takes time to practice and perfect the way of doing it. I did make it work but I could create a folder in iCloud Drive on the Mac.

Well it all went okay so far, although on the iPhone 6 it did do a reboot during upgrading to iCloud Drive. I will have to do a little bit of reading or maybe some watching of videos to see exactly how iCloud Drive works so that I can get the best from the new facilities. I have already opted for the €0.99 per month to get the 20 GB of storage. It seems like a good plan to see how that goes and see if I need more, before I upgrade to the next level 200GB which is only €3.99 per month.

iCloud Drive Folder

The iCloud Drive folder works just like any other folder in OS X. You are able to drag and drop to add files, organise things with folders and with tags, as well as being able to search it using Spotlight. It is going to be handy that we will be able to access all of the latest versions of our files from all computing devices including the iPad and iPhone. It seems the way that it works is that files in iCloud Drive will be available on the Mac even when you don’t have an Internet connection. Not having an Internet connection on my iMac doesn’t happen very often, but if it does any changes that I make to a file will be sent automatically as soon as my Mac goes back online.
CloudDocs libraries and TextEdit and Daily G

Incompatible applications

As I said, I am breathing a sigh of relief that I’m able to use DragonDictate on my iMac. I suppose it was to be expected that one of the incompatible applications would be GPG Mail. It could take quite some time before this is upgraded and it’s compatible with Yosemite. I do have the ability to use S/Mime certificates so that I can still use email encryption. Even so, I will be looking forward to the day when GPG mail is brought up to date. I could look at Thunderbird email client again.

Another application that was deemed incompatible was the Kindle app. This is no big deal as I don’t tend to read Kindle books on my iMac very often. The Kindle application is useful if I want to do a check of one of my own books that I’m working on. I don’t suppose it will take too long before this will be sorted out.

The only other application that isn’t working is the pen tablet preferences pane. This is for a Wacom Bamboo tablet and seeing I don’t use it very often I’m not too worried about it. These three pieces of software were moved into a separate folder on my boot drive called Incompatible Software.

New things in the Messages app

I will be able to send and receive SMS messages from within Messages on my iMac. I usually tend to use this application when I want to make contact with my mother who is using an iPad Mini. I could see that it could be quite handy to have messages coming in through SMS directly and have them available on my Mac. As I have already seen on my Messages application on my iPad and iPhone, it is now possible to send soundbites. This is a quick audio message that you can record and send to your friends as an audio clip. The person receiving the audio clip is able to decide whether they want to keep it or not, otherwise it vanishes after two minutes.

Making calls with the iPhone is possible from messages on the iMac. I don’t make many phone calls, but I will have to give this a try. It seems that all you need to do is to click on a phone number in Messages and that will make the call for you through your iPhone. I think this still works even if the phone is in another room, although I expect it needs to be within distance to work over a wireless signal, probably Bluetooth but possibly Wi-Fi.

Screen Sharing though Messages

On the Yosemite page on the Apple website it says that it’s now possible to do screen sharing through Messages. I did think that this was possible before, but who knows. I will give it a try and see how screen sharing works anyway. This could be handy when I’m trying to show some people how to do things with their Mac.

Improvements with Spotlight

I am a user of the Alfred application and I am fairly sure that I will continue to use Alfred to do my searches and use as an app launcher. I will do some testing of the new ways of working with Spotlight search and see how that goes aswell. I can get into Spotlight by doing a Control Option Space keyboard shortcut. I like the way that in the system preferences you can choose how you want your Spotlight results to appear. The default is to have the Applications first followed by Spotlight Suggestions and then Conversion and so on. It is easy to drag the categories up and down to change the results. So if you wanted to see the results earlier in spotlight from your mail and messages which at the moment are at position 12 on the list you could just move them up to whichever number position.

More Yosemite information to come.

Posted in Mac Software.

October Apple Event – New iPads a coming

A cryptic logo and a clue

Many of the commentators of Apple like to have a guess at what the message means behind the logo and text on an Apple invitation. In the latest invite to the next Apple event we have got a wavy line and something above that which looks like it should connect to that wavy line in some way or other. To me it looks like some sort of nib or paintbrush which is about to touch down onto some surface of one sort or another. This is probably totally wrong as an interpretation, as Apple don’t really have anything in terms of products that specifically fit this artistic notion that I have.

Fullscreen 09 10 2014 11 18The “It’s been way too long.” sentence is probably more likely to have something to do with the fact that the Mac Mini has been languishing without updates for about two years. Once again, I could be totally wrong on this, but you never know. The Mac Mini is a handy little computer that is worth having. I still have the original Mac Mini that I bought several years ago when I first switched to the Mac. It still works and maybe I will switch it on one of these days and have a touch of nostalgia.

New iPads are coming – Probably

It is pretty much a given that there is going to be new iPads involved in this event. One of the rumours is that there is going to be a pro version with a larger screen. It is a nice idea and I kind of wonder how that would work out in terms fitting in with the product line they already have. It is something that would have to fit in with the iPad line and also with the Mac notebook computers. I could imagine that something like a 12 inch large iPad Pro pricewise could end up being more than the entry-level MacBook Air.

I am pretty likely to buy myself a new iPad as the one I have is getting a little bit long in the tooth. It still works great and I will be passing it on to my wife who will be able to make excellent use of it. For me a new iPad will be of interest because of having Touch ID and a faster processor. It will also be useful for me to have an iPad that has the same lightning connector for charging as I have on my new iPhone 6. Aside from that if there are any other changes then I will take what we are given and be happy about it.

Already put the date in my diary

I have added an event into the calendar application on my Apple computer system. I did it using my Apple iPhone 6 with Siri. It is pretty nifty to have the phone in the pocket to do a long press on the home button and talk to Siri. I can do the whole thing and not have to take my phone out of my pocket. I am also really enjoying using that “Hey Siri” functionality and it is something that makes me want to keep my iOS products plugged in and charging. I keep wanting to learn more things that I can say to Siri. One that I find particularly useful in the morning is to ask Siri for the time as I don’t have to switch it on and peer at the screen with bleary eyes to know if I should get up or not.

The event takes place on Thursday, 16th October at 7 PM European time and I will be tuning in. Hopefully the live casting of the event will work properly this time and I will be able to view it on my Apple TV. Have you put the date into your diary and do you plan to watch?

Posted in iPad.

OmniFocus with iOS and Mac

I bought the latest version of OmniFocus for iPad

Although I told myself that I wouldn’t because it is too expensive and I already have the previous version, I relented and I bought it. I do kind of need some application like that to help me to organise myself when I am working for my own stuff during the winter break. OmniFocus is the best for this type of organisation and so I decided to shell out the cash. I will use it to follow through on the Snowflake Method for writing the novel during NaNoWriMo this year. So during October I will complete one stage of the organisational phase one after the other and then I will be completely ready for the 50,000 word sprint to the finish in November. I like to think that with all of the organisational outlining that I will do using the Snowflake Method that I will be able to bash out 60 or 70,000 words with ease.

OmniFocus The Omni Group

One of the things that I need to work on is the actual using of OmniFocus for iPad and OmniFocus for Mac. These two applications do work synchronously with each other which is pretty useful. Seeing as I already have the latest version of the Mac OmniFocus, it was another reason for me updating on the iPad. At least I was able to get into the pro version without paying any extra money due to already having the previous version on the iPad already. It was the same process also with the Mac version when I upgraded.

Rocksmith™ 2014 Edition Reserva el juego Página Oficial Ubisoft®

I don’t know where I will find the time!

With all of the writing that I have planned over the next few months I wonder how I am going to find the time to do the exercising and also learning to play the guitar. I bought the Rocksmith 2014 Edition
game/application for my Mac so that I can connect my guitar to it and play a game to improve my guitar playing. I keep looking at the DVD on the shelf and I need to copy it over to the Mac with an external DVD drive. My internal DVD drive doesn’t work. The DVD up there, it is kind of like it is haunting me. Even so, I think I should use the OmniFocus application in order to schedule some time, even if it is only a half an hour per day, to pick up the guitar.

It is the same sort of thing with the exercising as I won’t have the running in and out to Platja d’Aro on the bicycle, nor will I have all of the walking that I do while I am at work for keeping me fit. The dog will benefit from having longer walks and I will still be able to do one or two things for my work, while I’m walking. This will be the case to case of having the iPhone 6 with me and I will be able to use Siri to do some dictation. It might only be the case that I can just record some notes and I will try using Siri to do speech to text directly. If that doesn’t work then I can also do some audio recording of my voice that I can transcribe the later. I will also plan on having some trips out on the bicycle which will be great for the fitness and save me from using the car. While on the bike I can’t do much except ride, I can’t even listen to much as the wind noise means I can’t hear any podcasts unless they are loud or I ride slower.

Posted in iPhone.

Trying Omni Outliner

Markdown in Blogsy

I downloaded a copy of Omni Outliner and it looks quite good. The facilities that it offers are wide-ranging, but there are one of two things missing that I would like to see such as markdown export. As you would expect it does all the basic things well, such as being able to move topics within the document and also indenting of items. I have found that if I want to export to markdown then the best thing to do is to export as OPML and then open the file up in iThoughts X and then do the export from there. Despite the fact that they application is so well featured I think that a lot of of it is for the fiddling about with a look of Outline. All I really want from an outline application is to be able to organise the main topics and subtopics easily so that I can export is ready for filling in the actual text of the finished product. In that case I can easily say that I am not likely to spend the money on Omni Outliner even though is top notch. My money is better spent on using a less-expensive Outliner which does all that I needed to do.

Moving the outline on in the workflow

I was easily able to import an OPML file from iThoughts X and do some at outlining with it. The next part of the process for me is to export it out and put it into Scrivener. I quite like the importing of markdown files into Scrivener, but I can also use OPML to get the text into my writing application. For me, the outlining part of the process is a small and simple task that doesn't require a lot of time and effort spent on it. Just so long as the application has an easy way of using keyboard shortcuts or drag-and-drop to move items up and down in the order and also to be able to indent and outdent to different levels, then what else do I need? There has been a lot of effort in designing Omni Outliner so that you have themes which deal with the look of the Outline and I think to a certain extent this misses the point of what outlining is all about. What you want to do is to get in there and convert a set of random thoughts from the mind map and sorting it out so that you can start doing the actual writing of the topics within the article. The applications for the Mac, Tree and Scribe are both sufficient for this task and well worth checking out to see which one you prefer.

 

Posted in Uncategorized.

The Apple Watch – Should you buy One?

It has been a week since the Apple event in Cupertino where they announced the iPhone 6 and also the Apple Watch. This morning I actually got around to watching the video of the event. I would have watched it sooner except for the fact that my brother was visiting and so I have been rather busy. Up until now I have been thinking that I would not want to have an Apple watch. I had the opinion that an Apple watch would be far too expensive for what it would give me in functionality and that I didn’t need one. Boy, how easily I am swayed. After seeing what the Apple watch does, I have to admit that I am sold. I will be saving money so that as soon as they are available, I will buy one. I absolutely look forward to having an Apple watch my wrist and being properly Good and Geeky. The way that it works with the health applications and the fitness applications is very appealing indeed. I have been thinking of buying myself a Fitbit and now instead I will hang on, save some money and buy an Apple Watch instead.

Apple Watch colour

iPhone in the pocket

The Apple watch needs to have an iPhone to provide some of the functionality of the device. I have been lusting over the new iPhone 6 over the last week and I will be buying the smaller version of the two new models available. I need a phone that will fit into one of my shirt pockets and the large one, the iPhone 6 + would fit width wise, but would be far too long. I could imagine that if I was to use the larger phone then it would not be long before it fell out of my pocket to crash on some concrete. We don’t want that to happen now do we? So that the Apple watch will know how far I have walked, it will need the GPS made available from the iPhone. When going for a walk it is quite easy to have the phone in a pocket or a bag. When you are going for a run you don’t want to have a phone bouncing around, so it is going to be necessary to find a good way to carry it. It is great that the phone will be able to see your heart rate and to use that data in the health application. It is good to have this extra information when exercising, especially when you are an older git, like myself. I see that is going to be possible to use the health application which measures how much sitting down you are doing. The app will recommend that you stand up from time to time. It looks like that is going to be possible to set a target for how many steps that you want to take during your day. You can also set it so that it will let you know when you have completed a target number of kilometres or miles. I can’t wait until next year when we are going to be able to make use of this new technology.

The price of the Apple Watch

Initially, like many other people I thought that the price of $359 was rather expensive for a watch. The Apple Watch is more than just a watch. Not only does it look good and will be a fashion statement it will be incredibly useful. There is going to be a huge number of applications designed for using with the Apple Watch. I can see that it will get exponentially better and better as more apps become available. The Apple Watch is coming in a a few versions and that will include various price points. I will buy the one at the cheapest entry point as soon as the device becomes available.

Out and About with the Apple Watch

The watch gives feedback to the user through a touch system they are calling the Taptic Engine. The device will be giving us a tap on the wrist. Useful when using the map application and asking for directions to walk to someplace nearby. The watch will give you taps upon your wrist that you will be able to differentiate. It will be able to tell you whether to go left or to go right, for example. I could imagine that this would be a super useful tool for a blind person. With messages it is possible to tap out a message on the watch face and for that to be felt by the receiver in touch form. It seems that it will also give an audible version of some of these touch messages.

I like the fact that there is Siri integration on the Apple Watch. It really will feel like we are living in the future, when we are being Good and Geeky with technology like this. In the demonstration of the Apple Watch at the announcement they showed that when a message comes in the text is analysed. It will then give you the opportunity to give a quick reply which could be a choice between two or three items. There will be words from the original message, to give a response back, or it could be something like a yes, no or a maybe. The Apple Watch software will have some intelligence built in.

Posted in Apple Watch.

Candy Apple – Mac Vector Drawing Application

Graphics design programs for the Mac

In days of old I used to be a Corel draw user and I have to say I was fairly expert at it because I used it every day for about 12 years. I had a signwriting business and it was my job to create artwork for vehicles and shops. When I moved to the Mac and was in need of a vector-based graphics program there wasn’t really much available except for the very expensive Adobe Illustrator. Although the Adobe application was quite powerful with what it could do it didn’t match the ease-of-use that I had with Corel draw. I have tried one or two vector-based drawing applications for the Mac including VectorDesigner and Artboard and Vector Designer and none of them have really come up to scratch. So in my search for a decent, well priced graphics application for the Mac I have downloaded an application that I bought because it was on sale for two dollars and it is called Candy Apple. So far I have had only a quick look at what this can do and it does seem quite simple. So let’s have a look and see what we can do with it. When I first look an application I like to do it without reading any manuals or help documentation so that I can get a true feel for the usability and how intuitive the application is.

Getting Started with Candy Apple

On opening the application Candy Apple you are presented with a working area with a grid on it and a set of icons at the top. You can lose the grid if you want to. The first icon is if you want to start a new design, then you have two zoom buttons zooming in and zooming out. Then you have import and export buttons as part of the group on the left-hand side. The access to the tools is over on the right-hand side and it is minimal in the extreme. All you have is a set of four buttons, select, text, draw and styles. So I’m going to click on the draw button and see what happens.

Candy apple 1 Layers and Edit Inspector and candy apple 1

Drawing tools in Candy Apple

After clicking on the Draw button at the top in the header bar more small icons appeared below that give me access to a fuller set of tools. The first four of these tools from the left for drawing shapes such as circles, squares and rounded rectangles, then there are a number of line drawing tools including bezier line drawing tools. Then you have a tool for drawing ring shapes and another tool for speech bubbles. There is a text tool which allows you to put text into your drawing. I have to admit that when I first tried Candy Apple I thought that it was the button at the top that would get me to the text tools for inserting text and I was a little bit confused when nothing happened. It didn’t take me too long to work out today that you put the text in first (With Draw Tool) and then use the button on top if you need to change any of the details of the text such as the font you are going to use, the size, boldness, justification and positioning within the text box. There isn’t any difference it seems, between a simple text on the screen and paragraph text. Paragraph text is where you have a box and the text flows within this shape.

Did you know that there is some vector design tools in Art Text 2 and also in Pixelmator.

Shapes and text on the drawing space

So now that I have some objects on the drawing space the next thing to do is to work out what I can do with them. I’m having some trouble working out how to delete some of the nodes in one of the freehand shapes that I have drawn using the Beziers tool. I have tried double-clicking on the shape, double clicking on one of the nodes while the shape is selected and I can see the nodes. I have also selected the shape then changed to the drawing tool and in the selection of tools underneath that it looks like there is a tool to add to or to delete nodes, but once again I have had no luck in getting the job done. I might have to resort to reading a help file or finding a how-to video. The tools that I was looking to use at that moment was called Insert Path Point and Delete Path Point.

UPDATE: By zooming into the objects that I wanted to work with I was able to get these two tools to do the job of adding and deleting nodes.

Candy apple nodes

Bezier curves

It is quite simple to work with the bezier points to give me smooth lines from one part of the shape to the other. You just have to click and hold on the dot at the end of the bezier controller to change the shape of the line. It is possible to use styles and this gives you the opportunity to change the fill and line of the object. It is also possible to get rid of the line altogether by unchecking the box in the edit Inspector. I would like to be able to change some of the bezier points from sharp corners to smooth lines – Or going from smooth to sharp, and not having much success so far.

The Gradient Fills Challenge

I have been trying to add colours to a gradient fill. The standard gradient fill that I added worked fine and in the edit inspector I added another colour to the gradient so that it went from black to blue to white, but for some reason or other that didn’t get reflected in the actual shape I was working with.

My impression so far of candy apple

When you consider that I’m not a newbie as far as using vector drawing applications is concerned I should be flying along with Candy Apple. As it stands at the moment I am having to do a little bit more work than I would have expected in terms of getting used to a new application. I still have high hopes for how good this is as a vector design program for the Mac, but for the moment the jury is still out.

I still have a good number of tests to work through, such as how the Boolean operators work when I want to join shapes together into one single shape or if I want to use one shape to cut into another. I would like it if it is possible to add outlines and in lines to objects, I think I might be disappointed with this feature, as I haven’t seen any tools to be able to do that as yet.

In terms of moving around the document there is a zoom to fit which will take me to the whole document as well as there being a zoom in and a zoom out. One of the things that is missing is a zoom to object selected. This tool is really handy when you need to get in quickly to a part of your drawing that you are needing to get up close and personal with. As it is at the moment all you can do is to use the zoom tool and then to use two fingers on the trackpad to move the drawing around to where the object is you want to work with. That’s a bit fiddly…

When you have an object selected you see that there is a small purple dot and by grabbing this you can rotate the object around the centre point. It is possible to move the centre point for when you are using this to create patterns. Then there are the control points at each of the corners for the shape that you can use to change the size and the shape of it. With this you can easily change a circle into an oval and to make it as big or as small as you need it to be for your drawing. Then you have the control points halfway between each of the corners that you can use to stretch or two compress the shape in one direction. How this changing of the selected object works can be altered by using the shift key as you move the control points.

There is the usual layering involved of the objects with each object effectively being on its own layer. You can select an object and bring to the front or bring forward one layer at a time. The same thing going towards the back of the design. You get to this by doing a right click or a two finger tap on the trackpad and the context sensitive menu pop-up also gives you the option of converting the shape to an image/bitmap. You just have to remember that once you have converted the object to a bitmap you are going to have some jaggies to deal with if you change the size of the object afterwards.

If the object you are working with was a square, rectangle or a circle then you can convert it to a path which basically means it becomes a freely editable shape. In Candy Apple you can grab the control points of the bezier nodes and add or delete these as you see fit.

Video Tutorial coming soon!

I will be making a tutorial for getting started with Candy Apple soon.

Posted in Apple.

Mind Mapping on iOS then Outlining and Writing

Thinking and getting those ideas organised into a book

IThoughts mind mapping

I have had mind mapping software for quite some time now and I like using it, but often forget to get it out of the box as it were. This week I started to think about a new book to write and it is going to be about switching from iOS to Android and so I opened up iThoughts HD on the iPad. I like to dictate into my computer, in fact, all of my devices as much as possible so that I don’t have to use the keyboard. This is also the case when using iThoughts mind mapping software on the iPad as well. The nice thing about using mind mapping software is that you don’t have to think in a one-dimensional way. You can jump from idea to idea and just throw it in there and then you do all of the organisation at a later stage.

Aperture

NosillaCast and David Sparks talking about a writing workflow

Next thing I know I’m listening to the NosillaCast podcast by Alison Sheridan and she’s talking to David Sparks of Mac Power Users Podcast who was explaining the way that he does his writing. He was talking about how he likes to plan things with his writing work and build up an outline using mind mapping, before moving on to an outline program and then onwards to Scrivener. When I am doing my writing, I generally have a few ideas of what I want to write about and I just get started in my writing software and see how it flows. This is what is known as writing by the seat of your pants. I am a pantser by nature! Even so I think I’m going to give this other way of working a try, because I think I will end up with better structured final product if I organise myself in this way. I have in fact already started on this way of working by diving into the mind mapping application before doing anything else. What I probably would have done next, would have been to get the text from the mind map exported out and ready to put into Scrivener or in Dragon Dictate text editor window. I would then be using Scrivener as my outlining program, which you can do to a certain extent. I have now looked into outliner programs which I can see have more facilities available for that part of the job.

Let’s talk about software to use for the project.

On my Mac I have the mind mapping software called Mind Node Pro. It is very good for creating mind maps and I still plan to keep using that when I’m doing mind mapping on my Mac. What I did on this occasion though was to use my iThoughts HD on my iPad to create this mind map for the book. I did used to have the Mind Node Pro available for iOS, but I actually prefer to use iThoughts on iOS, it just seems to have a better feel to it for what I want to do. I just like the way that it works!

MindNode

Give full reign to the creative side of the brain

The way that I was working in the mind mapping software was to tap the button to create a new node from the centre starting point and then dictating in what I wanted in that new node. It is much quicker and easier to dictate the words in and it is a very good way to get your ideas out of your head efficiently. Making a mind map lets you think in a non-linear way and that is particular good for me because my brain works like that anyway. It must be the artist within me! All you have to do is to just keep the thinking juices flowing and putting stuff in there, even if it is silly or stupid. You can delete anything you don’t want at a later stage. The idea is that there are times when something silly will lead on to something that is useful anyway. It didn’t take long before I had quite a large looking mind map that I felt I could start doing something with in terms of organising. The process was giving me the placeholders or chapter titles, a grid for me to fill in the spaces.

Getting the data out

Top of Tree Tree outliner for Mac OS X Horizontally expanding outliner

So the next part of the workflow is to create a file with the data from the mind map. This can be used in that outlining application that is specifically for giving organisation to this sort of data or as I said, you can use Scrivener directly. If you don’t want to use either of these then it is also possible to do similar work in a word processor or a text editor. That wouldn’t really be good for being efficient and organised though. So the export format to send out from the mind map is called OPML.

This format is particularly good for using in an outlining tool such as Omni Outliner Pro. Well this piece of software for me from the Omnigroup is very good indeed, but it is far too expensive for my pockets. This seems to be the case with all of the software from this software developer. Having said that, I do own a copy of Omnifocus which I like to use for the getting things done type of organising. As I write this, I’ve just become aware that there is a new version of Omnifocus has just become available. I have already upgraded to this new version 2.

There are lots of ways to get the data out of iThoughts – By email, cloud, browser transfer over wifi, iTunes Transfer. I sent it out by email and saved the OPML file to the desktop on the Mac.

Using Data you have exported out of iThoughts

I didn’t have a proper outlining application and I needed to look for an alternative to Omni Outliner. Tree Outliner had been mentioned on the podcast, but I found a couple that were cheaper or free. I tried them and then decided to get the trial version of Tree. In the end I found that Tree was the one to go for so I bought it. It has the usual Outliner app view and it also has an expanded out sideway view. I liked the reorganise tools with the keyboard combinations to make it all happen quickly. I liked how easy it is to collapse all items and it makes it easy to arrange where you want things in your list.

IOS to Android and Dragon Workings

What next after organising the outline?

You could just take that outline and open it in a Scrivener project and then start to add the flesh onto the bones of the project.If you don’t want to rush things, you can send the data out of the outliner app back to a mind map and continue working on it. Bring it back into the outliner again to organise some more before you send it to Scrivener the best writers software. It will be surprisingly easy to write the first draft then because you have something to hang the words on already.

Posted in iPad.

PhotoSweeper – A duplicate photograph Finder

These days with the facilities that we have with our super duper cameras we can quite quickly fill up hard drives upon hard drives with our photographs. It could be that you are using the setting on the camera to take multiple shots in order to help you catch the action. Maybe you do like I do, where you take bracketed shots so that you can do HDR photos and when you have finished using Photomatix Pro to create your high dynamic range image you just want to get rid of the photos you used to do that. There could be other reasons why you end up with multiple images even down to the possibility that maybe you copy them over twice by mistake. I have been having a look at an application called PhotoSweeper which gives you some extra tools for finding duplicates. These duplicates can be found by looking in specific folders, you just drag and drop the folder into the application and tell it to have a look. Or you might be using one of the photo management applications like Lightroom, Aperture or iPhoto. This PhotoSweeper application will also do what needs to be done in this situation also.

Getting started with PhotoSweeper

When you first open it up there is a small six panel set of getting started help information. It only takes a minute to read through it, because the application is actually quite easy to use. I used this with my Aperture library and the first thing that I had to do was to use the media browser to add the library to this application. It is possible to drag and drop the Aperture library into this media browser and there is also a plus button that can be clicked to let you go finding the library in Finder.

Working with the settings in PhotoSweeper

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Generally you work with the application on a folder, project or album level, getting started by dragging the container you are working with into the main window of the application. I first of all dragged in an Aperture project from the media browser and I found that it worked just as well with bringing in an album that was part of a project. I also dragged in a folder directly from Finder into the main window of the application and that was no problem at all.

On the set up page you get to choose how you want the application to look for duplicates. This can be as simple as photos that are exact duplicates or you can use settings to find photos that are just similar. One of the most useful settings would be to use time plus bitmap and this will look at the timestamp on the photo and then it will look through the actual bitmap of the image to find similarities. You can also set the time interval that it should use for deciding if these might be duplicates by moving a slider to the left to get a longer time period and the other way for shorter. You might choose to use a time interval of ten seconds or less, three minutes and less and then you might want to go the whole hog for twenty-four hours or less.

What have you got in your Camera Bag

When you have set up the search that you want to do, all you have to do is to click on the Compare button at the bottom of the screen. It is quite amazing how fast the application does the job of looking through the photos and when it has scanned them it will ask you if you want it to auto-mark the ones that it thinks are duplicates or similar. I did find that when looking at photos that I had taken with a bracketed exposures that the application didn’t choose the properly exposed photo of the three. For some reason or other PhotoSweeper seemed to prefer the photo that was underexposed by two stops. It would be handy if in a future version of this application there was a setting that allowed you to do a better sorting of bracketed photos in the setup.

What to do with the results

If you go for the auto-marking of the photos then you can look more closely at the results and make specific choices to remove the marker or to add a marker to the duplicates that are laid out in groups. The photos that are to be kept are marked with a green label and the ones that are marked for removal have a red one. It is possible to go through these groupings one by one and two double click on a photo in order to toggle the marked status.

PhotoSweeper and Preview of Untitled and MarsEdit

There is a slider in the bottom right-hand corner of the application which will give you a zoom level, so if you need to see a bigger version or a smaller version it is easy to do so. This is when you are looking at the group list. You can also change this to a view which is called face-to-face which gives you a pair of photos to look at, even when the group has more than two in it. The text in between the two photos gives you a time difference between the two and underneath it gives you a percentage which must be the amount of similarity from one photo to the next. There are also arrows that you can use to scroll through the pairings of that group.

With a right click on a photo you get extra choices, such as removing from the list or moving a single photo directly to the trash. When you have gone through each of the groups and made the decisions of which photos you want to keep and which ones you want to delete, then you go to the menu Marked and decide how you are going to deal with those deletions. You might decide to move all the marked photos directly to the trash or you can move marked photos into another folder. So it is perfectly possible for you to clean up your Aperture library and yet to still keep your hands on all of the photographs that you have. So you can have all of your keepers within your container whether that is the photo management tool or within a folder and then move everything else out into a separate place.

A workflow to use when importing photos into the computer

One way of doing this would be to import photos from the camera, either directly from the SD card or from a folder on the hard drive that you have copied them to. Sorting out the duplicates in the PhotoSweeper application before you put them into your photo management app. This would be a way to sort the wheat from the chaff and only have the keepers in your Aperture, iPhoto or Lighroom application. You can use this to sort out your artistic photos that you have been editing in Pixelmator.

Personally I would prefer to just get everything into Aperture using the Aperture import facilities and only after that to do the weeding out of the photos that I don’t want. Whichever way you decide to go about dealing with your duplicates, within PhotoSweeper you can choose to to copy duplicates or to remove duplicates. You can even rename photos that are dealt with by PhotoSweeper.

Posted in Photography.

Getting started with DEVONthink

I am coming at this as a complete newbie and not quite sure what DEVONthink can offer me over what I have already. I heard the application being described as a combination of the app Jojimbo, Scrivener and a dash of AI (Artificial Intelligence) thrown in for good measure. I have Evernote when gives me the receptacle for stuff I want to save for reference. I have Scrivener and it really is the business for writers. I don’t have much intelligence, artificial or otherwise. So lets see what we have to do to get started.

Products DEVONtechnologies 2

Which version should I get???

There are multiple versions and the top end ones are a bit pricey. The people that get using Devonthink do love the app and what it gives them in functionality and swear that it is well worth spending the money. We shall see! I have gone for the Devonthink Personal because I had a licence for a previous version and if I do the upgrade to the latest then it will be to this version. Not sure if I would have the need for all of the bells and whistles in the Pro versions.

Update:

I applied to DEVONthink to get the pro version that they offered to journalist, bloggers and reviewers and they sent me a not for sale copy. So this is what I will be using for my review and tutorials.

Learning to use DEVONthink

Because of the complexity of this application it is absolutely vital that you devote a reasonable amount of time in learning how to use it. It is in fact quite amazing some of the things that can be done with DEVONthink and is well worth spending the time looking at the tutorials. When you open up the application there is a start-up window and there are links to tutorials and hints and tips. I would suggest that it is a good idea to watch the videos and in some cases watch the videos twice. The way that I recommend is to watch the video from start to finish in one go first of all, and then to watch it again stopping at points along the way to try the processes involved in the video.

There is for example, a very good video showing you how the tagging works within DEVONthink. There is a setting that you can change within the project properties and it is explained in the video how to do that to get better use from the tagging. It also shows you how you can use tagging to create searches and how to save those searches to make smart folders or smart groups. One of the great things about videos is that you can pause them and then go and try what it is that you are being shown. Better still, you can go back to an earlier point in the video and watch specific lessons in the video again.

Don’t overdo it with the tutorials either.

There is a huge amount of information to get through and things to learn about the application DEVONthink, so it is probably a good idea to dive into the application after watching one of the videos showing a portion of what you need to know. This way you will make sure that you will properly learn the lessons and not forget things. Practice a number of times what you find in the tutorials before you go on to learning the next thing that you need to know.

DEVONthink getting started 2

My own exploration of using Devonthink

There is a book that I want to write and I have decided to use DEVONthink as much as possible for the completion of this project. For that purpose I need to use the companion to DEVONthink which is DEVONagent Pro or possibly DEVONagent Express. Which of these you using will depend upon your requirements and needs for your project as well as the amount of money you’re prepared to spend on this system. I am working with DEVONthink Pro and so I am going to pair that with DEVONagent Pro, but you could just as well be using that with the personal version if you are using DEVONthink Personal instead.

Using DEVONagent Pro I can do a web search on my topic of choice. This application gives me a much better sorting of the web articles that are found, than I would find by doing an ordinary Google search. Also it makes it quite easy for me to take the information found and put it into DEVONthink. As I am moving the found information, my resources and research into DEVONthink I’m able to add notes and also tags. This means that later when I am looking to use the smart artificial intelligence that is the best feature of the DEVONthink application, it will do a much better job.

The artificial intelligence of DEVONthink

The application analyses the data that you put into it and has features that will suggest connections between one set of data and another. Obviously, this will be very useful in terms of giving you other things to think and to write about. It is helpful to the creative process when DEVONthink is able to stimulate your creative juices. I can certainly see that this is going to be very useful for the writing of my book and it certainly would be especially handy if you are writing a paper for an educational purpose.

In the next article I will be looking at the DEVONthink application in more detail starting with getting it has set up ready to do things with.

Posted in Mac20Q.

Recommended Plugins for Aperture

Working with plug-ins in Aperture

Photomatix Pro

Photomatix Pro for HDR 2

Aperture is very good in terms of being able to add effects to photographs and because it was made with the photographer in mind, generally the effects are quite subtle. Certainly they are subtle in terms of comparison with things like HDR High Dynamic Range photography. One of my passions in photography is HDR and for this I use an application called Photomatix Pro and I have been using it as a stand-alone application for some years. It has recently been updated to version 5 and it was a paid upgrade. While I was in the process of upgrading on the Photomatix Pro website I saw that there was another version available that would work as a plug-in to Aperture. It also works with other photo applications such as the one from Adobe, Lightroom. It didn’t cost anything to get this other version on account of the fact that I am a paid user of Photomatix Pro, so I got it and installed it. I have done all of this since I upgraded to Mavericks OS X.

Snapheal proPro

Snapheal Pro 2

Same sort of thing with the application Snapheal and getting an upgrade to Snapheal Pro, although it did cost me €18 to get the upgrade to the pro version. I find that it is well worthwhile to be able to work directly from Aperture rather than having to open up a separate application. I have all of my photos within Aperture and it saves me having to export a file out, do some work with it and then bring it back into Aperture. It is much better to have the files dealt with in one app and not have files scattered across the hard drive that need to be tidied up afterwards. It is also much faster working this way.

Intensify Pro

Similarly I have gone with the pro version of Intensify as this will gives you access from Aperture to stronger adjustments for your photos. The adjustments within Aperture are mostly available across the whole photo, although there are some which allow more specific changes to the parts of photo. With Intensify Pro there is much more granular control over effects available, for example with the vignette it is possible to move the centre of the vignette to wherever you want it in the image.

So now when I am working with photos on my Mac in the application Aperture I have access to these three photo manipulation tools directly and I get a much faster workflow with the photographs. When I want to make a HDR photograph I can select the three photos and choose to work with the plug-in Photomatix Pro and do all of the necessary adjustments to get the look that I want. As soon as I save it there, it is immediately available in Aperture and the next thing I might want to do, is to work on it in Snapheal Pro. With Snapheal Pro I can take out an object within the photograph that is at present spoiling the composition or the general look of the photo, or to generally clean it up. That would be one workflow and the other possibility would be that I would first work with Intensify Pro and then start to use Snapheal Pro.

Intensify Pro Photo effects 2

Creativity is all about choices and how you combine them.

There are numerous photo editing and manipulation tools available for the Mac and this combination of Aperture plus Photomatix Pro, Snapheal Pro and Intensify Pro is working very well for me at present. This setup is giving me lots of choices so that I don’t end up having all my photographs looking the same. As you can imagine using the grunge setting in the Photomatix Pro app would get old very quickly.

Check out the photos I have been creating both on Google+ and also on Flickr.

There is a certain amount of overlap between some of the effects that are available. I can go subtle by staying within Aperture or I can go into either Intensify Pro or Photomatix Pro for more overt and dramatic effects. There is a preset within Intensify Pro that is quite like a HDR photo. A lot of it depends upon the photograph and what I imagine could be the best solution for enhancing it before I share it.

I am not one of these photographers that likes to hold on to the photo being a visual truth. I would much rather see my final photograph as a piece of art that ultimately might not have anything to do with what I actually saw with my eyes and my camera. It is most certainly possible to go over the top especially with Photomatix Pro and Intensify Pro. Sometimes less is more and it would be a shame to spoil the inherent beauty of the scene as captured at the location. You makes your choice and you then have to live with it. So now I think it is time for me to go and get my Sony NEX-6 Mirrorless and go off and take more photos. I can then come back home and my iMac and have some fun altering the photos to get them just the way that I like them.

Posted in Mac Software.